Dutch Tool Chest Part 4: Top, tool holders and finishing

My power tool exclusion broke down when it came to making the top for chest. I still don’t have the hand tools I would need to make the tongue and groove to make the traditional bread-board ends, so I wound up using a doweling jig and power drill to attach the breadboards. Other than (or because of) that, the top went together smoothly.

Dutch tool chest components

Main components of the chest.

I planed the boards flat and even for the main panel and jointed them to create spring joints, then glued them up and clamped them, then stood there trying to figure out how to attach the ends. I made a quick trip to Harbor Freight to get a biscuit joiner but wound up stumbling on a $15 doweling jig that turned out to work surprisingly well. HF is always a crap shoot, but in this case it turned out great. The jig was aligned correctly out of the box and I had the holes bored and the breadboards placed in about 15 minutes.

All the main pieces were built. What I thought would take hours has already taken days. I usually spend about 2 hours a day working on the chest during the week, and maybe 4 on the weekends, so I figure it’s taken me about 20 hours to get to this point, but I knew this would be a learning exercise, and I can already see how I could have cut that time in half.

From there I moved onto the tool holders for my chisels, marking gauges and saws, then decided to make a small drawer unit to hold miscellaneous items like pencils, dovetail markers, small files, etc. I pulled all of the materials for these pieces from my scrap box, so it’s a bit of mix and match, but I like the outcome.

The interior pieces came together easily, but the saw till inside the lid turned out to be a challenge. I went through three designs and builds before finding one that worked, and even then I had to make adjustments inside to allow the lid to close properly.

As a finish, I wound up going with General Finishes milk paint in Coastal Blue, which seemed close to the photos I had seen of actual Dutch tool chests. After a few tests, I settled on a mix of one part paint with 1.5 parts water and added a dollop of tung oil to smooth it out.

Here she is all put together, minus the top.

dutch tool chest construction

All together now… but still topless.


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